Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 09/2010

Reforming the Inter-American Defense Board

John A. Cope

August 2010

Institute for National Strategic Studies


The Western Hemisphere’s delegations to the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB) should represent and be responsible to ministers of defense or their equivalents, rather than to the armed forces, as is the case in most countries in the Americas today. This breakthrough reform would bring the Board in line with democratic constitutional practices, strengthen Organization of American States (OAS) support for democracy, and help implement the 2003 Mexico City “Declaration on Security in the Americas,” which adopted a broadened multidimensional view of security. The reform could be accomplished without change to the March 2006 statutes and would bring the Board into the OAS General Secretariat associated with the Secretariat on Multidimensional Security. This small but pivotal step toward developing a genuinely collaborative civil-military working environment could improve OAS effectiveness, contributing to matters of multilateral security and defense at a time of imperiled public safety in many countries and increased transnational crime and violence.